~ “A structure becomes architectural, and not sculptural, when its elements no longer have their justification in nature.” ~
— Guillaume Apollinaire
In the previous steps in our jouney, we’ve been focusing mostly on intuitive methods of reading a Tarot Card. While, those are wonderful ways of not only enhancing our understanding and appreciation of the Tarot, as well as, expanding our own intuitive abilities; it’s also important for us to understand the basic structure of a Tarot Card. By ‘structure’, I mean the card’s Number, Mode, Suit, and Element.
Reading a card on an ‘intuitive’ level does bring an extra depth to a reading, however, sometimes even the most intuitive of readers tend to blank out in the middle of a reading because they are just unable to ‘get’ a card. It’s normal – we’re human beings. We have our moments. Also, not all readings require us to go ever so deep into a card. A quick, no frills, blunt interpretation of the card at times is more appreciated than a long detailed descriptive one that we’ve ‘channeled’. It’s kinda like those days when you just crave a Big Mac and fries, and know that Fois Gras or Coq au Vin can’t satisfy you.
In her book, 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card, Mary K Greer has dedicated two separate chapters on exploring the structure of a card. One entirely focusing on the card’s Number, while the second focusing on the card’s Mode, Suit, and Element. I however, have decided to include them within a single posting, mainly because at this point, I’m only focusing on the ‘Way of the Apprentice’ exercises, as well as, I feel that each aspect is essential to the card’s structural make-up, and thus enable us to enhance our understanding of the card when applied together, than separately.
So without further delay, let’s delve into the structural aspect of our given card – The 6 of Swords
The number of our given card is ‘6’. Six is the number of equilibrium, as well as, balance, harmony, health, and time. Pythagoras considered the number 6 as the form of forms, the perfection of all the parts, and associated it with immortality. In Christian symbolism, 6 is also considered as the number of perfection, as God created the world in 6 days. According to the Kabbalah, 6 represents beauty and creation (Tiphareth). According to the Chaldean system of Numerology, 6 is associated with the planet Venus, and thus represents a feminine/yin energy that is pleasant, harmonious, settled, and peaceful, and emphasizes on love, beauty, relationships, diplomacy, and resolution.
Applying it to the card:- Seeking calmer waters. Releasing Tension. Moving away from chaos and anxiety and entering a more peaceful state where balance and harmony are restored.
In Tarot, Modes are the four unit divisions of the deck; i.e. Majors/Trumps, Court Cards, Aces, and Minor Pips (Numbered cards from 2 – 10). The 6 of Swords is a Minor Pip card, which represents the ‘What?’. They describe the situation and events that are occuring within our lives, as well as, what exactly we are dealing with and what action we can take to deal with it.
Applying it to the card:- Journey. Travel. Transition. Change. Progress.
The given card belongs to the Suit of Swords. Swords represent the qualities necessary to survive, especially boldness, dexterity, efficiency, alertness, and courage. They also allow us to observe scenes from our life without emotion and somewhat detached, critical, and allow us to discriminate fairly. Swords are also indicative of struggles or conflict, and point to a need for making decisions to shape our lives. They cut through all the drama and BS surrounding us, offering us clarity.
Applying it to the card:- Detaching ourselves emotionally as we release the past and enter our future. In order to sail through a time of struggle and difficulty, we need to detach ourselves from all the BS and focus on the things that matter. Critical and objective reflection is required in order to gain an understanding of our situation and achieve clarity.
The given card belongs to the element of Air. Air represents our mind, intellect, logic, reason, rationality, and our ability to communicate. In a psychological context, Air corresponds to nimble analysis, flexible discrimination, and therefore to ideas, ideals, and knowledge acquired through study and education.
Applying it to the card:- Transferring ideas, data, and thoughts. Channel of Communication. Education helps us move from the ‘dark’ and into the ‘light’ by opening our minds and expanding our horizons.
As you can see, just by examining the various aspects of the overall structure of the card, we discover quick and to-the-point interpretations of the given card. This way, whenever we go through an ‘intuitive dry-spell’, we can still tap into the wisdom within the card and gain the answers we seek. In a way, it almost gives us a ‘scientific’ way of analyzing and interpreting the Tarot.
Stay tuned for Step 7: Synthesis, where we shall combine the various structural aspects of the card and expand on our abilities of interpretation.
Love and Blessings